Senior running back Mark Workman did some serious work for the Hesperia varsity football team Friday evening.LSJ Logo incert

That work got rewarded with a conference championship.

Workman carried the ball 22 times for 203 yards and found the end zone five times in the Panthers’ 47-20 victory over Lakeview that clinched a league title in the Central State Activities Association’s Silver Division.

“The kids are pretty fired up and this coach is pretty fired up,” said Hesperia coach Aaron Sims. “It was a fun celebration in the locker room.”

The title run continues Hesperia’s remarkable turnaround from a 1-8 finish from a year ago. The Panthers are now 7-0 overall and 5-0 in league play.

“I’m not really surprised because I know the grueling work they put in throughout the summer,” Sims said. “I saw all the sighs and the eyes rolling, but I told them that I knew what was coming if they kept that focus. The kids put in the time and they worked for each other.

“I’m not sure I expected 7-0 at this point, but I’m not surprised, either,” he added. “We’ve got a good group of kids here.”

Davian Gowens had a 79-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for the Panthers, while sophomore Garrit Yates ran for 129 yards and a score.

As a team, Hesperia totaled 466 rushing yards.

Defensively, Yakes had five tackles and a forced fumble, Brandon Goins led with 10 tackles, and Gage Balkema added nine.

Hesperia closes its season with non-conference games against Fremont and North Muskegon.